Healthcare Stories continue to be entertaining

I almost stopped reading this article in the LATimes after this sentence:

The growing ranks of Americans without health insurance — more than 50 million, according to the Census Bureau’s latest estimate — are a clear symptom of a dysfunctional healthcare system.

Or maybe it’s a clear symptom of unemployment. ?

But I kept going. The article is about how Americans don’t want to accept rationing no matter how rational the reasoning behind it. Ie X doesn’t help, so we should reduce X and Americans say NO, don’t ration! It notes the Preventative Services Task Force rules without looking at costs, but only at effectiveness and so Americans are irrational by concluding that rationing is a part of the recommendations.

It’s fair to debate how best to achieve healthcare reform. But it’s hard to see how healthcare costs can be brought under control if attempts to make the system more efficient and effective get waylaid by irrational fears about rationing.

Anyway – in todays Washington Post is a front page story on – rationing. How much is 4 months of life worth in regards to Provenge a new prostate drug that has shown some change in life expectancy after use. It costs close to $100,000 and medicare is deciding whether to cover it or not. They claim they are reviewing it’s effectiveness and are not concerned with cost, but everyone around them agree this is not really the case. In the end, if Medicare refuses to cover it, then private insurers will refuse to cover it.

“It is extremely chilling if, after spending a huge sum of money, time and effort to get a drug through FDA approval, you’ll then have to go through it all again to see if CMS will pay for it,” said Allen S. Lichter, head of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

And if pharma doesn’t send out mediocre drugs that may be expensive, how do researchers improve on the products?

Going back to the LATimes and those pesky Americans:

They’re much more willing to put up with rationing by income, which the current system imposes by allowing wealthier people to buy more and better care, than accept even the whiff of rationing by the government.

This is true. If it’s income that rations, then products at least get a chance to get out there, get practiced on and improved until their costs come down and suddenly everyone can afford the new and improved version.

[in a hurry – sorry if the first draft is incoherent. Read the two articles and you’ll get what I mean!]

“Clarity”

I like that word.

Ed Morrissey talks about Glenn Reynold’s Examiner column today. Glenn recommends clarity over compromise or confrontation as the order of the day.

what Americans need more than anything is clarity about what those choices involve, about who is making them, and about who is avoiding them.

I would agree. And I would agree that is why Chris Christie is so popular. He is crystal clear about what is needed, when and what he’s going to do and what your responsibilities will be.